Drawing on her own personal experience with alopecia areata a condition resulting in the development of bald spots which can be especially devastating for women Dr. Angela Christiano, a dermatology professor at Columbia University Medical Center in New York has long been trying to find new techniques for growing hair, and she just might have succeeded this time. Along with collaborators from Durham University in Britain, she has developed a new technique that not only moves hair to different places on the scalp, but also adds hair at the same time.
Dr. Christiano and her team focused on dermal papillae, the cells at the base of the hair follicles. In rodents, these cells, when transplanted, lead to new hair growth in a process involving the reprogramming of the surrounding skin cells. The specific technique used by these researchers involved removing these cells from the scalp, culturing them in a laboratory and then re-injecting them back into the head. The key though was to make sure that the cells were cultured in hanging drops, so that the drops were literally hanging upside down. These cultured cells were then injected into mice grafted with skin made out of the foreskins of circumcised infants an area of the body that is hairless. Five out of the seven grafts grew new hair follicles.
Dr. Christiano says, The success, though encouraging, is just a first step. At the moment we re only getting quite a small hair. Let s hope that this journey, which started small, becomes a major breakthrough!